California was a dark place (sometimes) in 2000 and 2001. The sunny state was experiencing power blackouts due to demand overload on the grid.
The Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) was introduced to encourage more distributed power sources and storage, for a more resilient grid.
Essentially, we needed to take a load off the grid -- fast. The best way to do this was by incentivizing different means of creating and storing energy in distributed ways.
SGIP was the solution. The program has changed a lot since its inception, becoming more inclusive of new technologies such as battery storage.
In 2016, the SGIP allocated 75 percent of the total budget for energy storage, such as home solar backup battery. This and other revisions have made rebates more available for residential homeowners who were squeezed out by commercial storage customers in earlier versions of the plan.
The rebate structure is set up in five tiers or steps, which descends by $0.05/Wh or $0.10/Wh (depending on demand within the first 10 days of a step’s availability).
Image from SGIP Handbook Version 6
SGIP 2018 Status: Rebates are Dropping and Completing
Four utilities offer incentive rates: San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Electric (SCE), and Southern California Gas (SCG).
The SGIP is one of the longest-running self-generation programs in the country and is hugely successful. In fact, SDGE is already in step 5 (the final phase of the program) due to high demand. When step 1 was released, SDGE sold out of both residential and commercial project budget limits within 24 hours!
As of April 30, 2018, SDGE had to open a waitlist for homeowners applying for home battery installation rebates. This was set up to happen when the program budget was completely allocated, during the final step.
According to the SGIP handbook, when there is enough attrition to fund waitlisted projects, they will be assigned an incentive rate in the last step and reviewed in the order in which they were submitted. People on the waitlist will have their applications funded as money becomes available throughout the rest of the program.
Of the four utilities, the latest update on the program metrics shows:
- SDGE is in step 5 at $0.25/Wh,
- SCE in step 3 at $0.35/Wh,
- PG&E in step 3 at $0.35/Wh, and
- SCG is still in step 2 at $0.40/Wh.
SDGE rates are listed under the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), which is the Program Administrator for the program for SDGE.
You can see the allocation here under Small Residential Storage
Don’t Miss Out on SGIP Rebates
With the remaining utilities edging toward the latter half of the available program funds, taking action on securing these rebates for yourself as soon as possible is a good idea.
If the SDGE program budget trajectory is any indicator of the general trend, the other programs wrapping up sooner than expected is not out of the question.
You can select your utility on this Program Level Budget Summary page through Self Gen CA to see where your utility stands as far as program budget.
How Much You Could Save with SGIP
The amount of money you could save with a battery storage rebate through SGIP varies based on which step of the program is active with your utility provider when you apply and the size of your battery.
Obviously, earlier steps will give you the best incentive rate. For a 13.2kWh Tesla Powerwall 2, ballpark estimates for savings are between $2,900 in step 5 and $4,640 in step 2.
You also might be eligible for the 30 percent federal tax credit or ITC, which would put another significant dent in battery price.
If you think a battery might fit into your home solar energy system, read more about specific requirements and exclusions the IRS looks at for solar batteries and the ITC here.